You are on page 1of 3

GREEK LITERATURE

Cupid and Psyche


Psyche, the prettiest mortal girl, is the daughter of a king and queen with two older sisters. Her
looks are so enticing that all men and women come to see her beauty. Some even claim that
she is prettier than the Greek Goddess of love. However, all the attention that Psyche receives
does not fulfill her desire to fall in love and find a hand in marriage. Aphrodite notices that she is
being outshone by a mere mortal and she becomes jealous thus ordering her son, Cupid, to
shoot Psyche with his arrow so she falls in love with an ugly monster. Cupid agrees to do so and
visits Psyche at night. The moment he shines his light upon the sleeping mortal, he becomes so
startled by her beauty that he shoots himself with his own arrow and instantly falls in love with
her.
Meanwhile, being unfavored by Aphrodite, Psyche becomes distanced from finding her true
love. Her parents notice this and become worried that she will never marry as their intentions.
They visit with the God of Truth, Apollo, and he tells how she is destined to marry a monster on
the top of a mountain. Filled with aggravation, her parents tell her and she agrees to deal with
her given destiny. So Psyche ascends the mountain and awaits her husband to be. Upon that
mountain she is catered to her every need and practically lives the life of luxury. With her new
life, she can only meet with her husband at night in the dark and he remains unseen. What she
does not know is that Cupid is actually the one who visits her every night as he is entranced by
her. But Psyche is to believe that she is meeting with the
monster who lives upon the mountain. Cupid asks her to not
to doubt their love simply because she cannot see his face
and she agrees.
As time progresses she begins to miss her family and
requests that her two sisters come up and visit her. Zephyr
brings them up to the mountain and they plant doubt into
Psyches mind saying that her husband is an ugly monster
who waits to feast on her. Psyche first doubted them but her
curiosity overpowered her and she could not resist. So one
night as Cupid visited her, she shone a light onto his face
while holding a knife and was startled that he was such a
beautiful sight. Cupid, feeling betrayed from their trust tells her he shall no longer see her and
flies away leaving her with feelings of guilt and remorse.
Figure 1 this painting shows Psyche
tried to kill Cupid

Psyche turns to Aphrodite asking for forgiveness and she


assigns her tasks to do in order to prove herself worthy. Once she completed her punishment,
Psyche receives a box filled with beauty but is warned not to open it. Her desire for beauty takes
hold of her and she opens the box and finds nothing but a Stygian sleep. She lays in the middle
of a road fast asleep and remains there. Meanwhile, Cupid recovers from his internal wounds
and can no longer bear being separated from his beloved Psyche. He goes to where she sleeps
and pricks her with one of his arrows. Then he goes to Zeus and asks him to negotiate with
Aphrodite causing her to allow consent. He then sends Mercury to retrieve Psyche into the
heavens and presents her with a cup that makes her immortal. She awakes and sees Cupid and
they fall in love, later creating a daughter named Pleasure.

Pyramus and Thisbe


Pyramus and Thisbe lived in Babylonia and from the time
they were young, were neighbors. They played together
daily as children and fell in love as they grew older. Although
neighbors, their families were hostile to one another so the
love between Pyramus and Thisbe remained a secret. They
had a special meeting place at a wall between their houses.
This particular wall bore a scar. A large crack marred its
smooth surface as a result of an earthquake long ago.
Pyramus and Thisbe communicated through this crack when
it was risky to see one another. One particularly magnificent
day, they arrived at their usual meeting place. The beauty of
the day made them lament their situation all the more. They Figure 2 this image shows Thisbe
listening to Pyramus through wall.
cried as they watched two hummingbirds fly over the
wall together. Suddenly they came to the decision that they would not be stopped from being
together any longer. They decided to meet that night outside the city gates under a mulberry
tree filled white fruit. This particular tree grew near a stream next to the local cemetery. Thisbe,
hidden by a veil, arrived at the appointed spot first and waited patiently for Pyramus to come.
All of a sudden, a lioness fresh from a kill, her jaws covered in blood, slunk out of the brush to
satisfy her thirst at the stream. Thisbe, frightened by this disturbance, ran to a nearby cave. In
her haste, she dropped her veil and the lioness grabbed it and shredded it with her bloody jaws.
Meanwhile, Pyramus had arrived at the meeting place. As he approached the tree he could not
help but notice the large paw prints of the lioness. His heart beat faster. As he approached the
stream,
his fears were confirmed upon seeing Thisbes veil torn and bloodstained. Unable to find
Thisbe and fearing that she was dead, Pyramus was unable to contain his sorrow. He drew his
sword and plunged it deeply into his side. As he removed the sword from his side, blood
sprayed the white fruit on the tree, turning it a dark purple color.
Meanwhile, Thisbe, recovered from her fright, came back to the meeting place by the stream.
There she saw Pyramus body lying in a crumpled heap on the ground. Racked with
uncontrollable agony, she took his sword and threw her body onto it. With her dying breath, she
pleaded with the gods that their bodies be buried in a single tomb and that the tree in the special
meeting place would always bear fruit in the color of a dark and mournful color in memory of
their unrequited love. To this day, the berries of the mulberry tree always turn dark purple in
color when they are ripe.

Pygmalion and Galatea

Pygmalion, the mythical king of Cyprus, had many problems when dating women. He
always seemed to accept dates from the wrong women. Some were rude, others were
selfish; he was revolted by the faults nature had placed in
these women. It left him feeling very depressed. He
eventually came to despise the female gender so much
that he decided he would never marry any maiden. For
comfort and solace, he turned to the arts, finding his
talent in sculpture. Using exquisite skills, he carved a
statute out of ivory that was so resplendent and delicate
no maiden could compare with its beauty. This statute
was the perfect resemblance of a living maiden.
Pygmalion fell in love with his creation and often laid his
had upon the ivory statute as if to reassure himself it was
not living. He named the ivory maiden Galatea and
Figure 3 this image shows
adorned her lovely figure with womens robes and placed
Pygmalion creating Galatea
rings on her fingers and jewels about her neck.
At the festival of Aphrodite, which was celebrated with great relish throughout all of
Cyprus, lonely Pygmalion lamented his situation. When the time came for him to play
his part in the processional, Pygmalion stood by the altar and humbly prayed: If you
gods can give all things, may I have as my wife, I pray he did not dare say the ivory
maiden but instead said: one like the ivory maiden. Aphrodite, who also attended the
festival, heard his plea and she also knew of the thought he had wanted to utter.
Showing her favor, she caused the altars flame to flare up three times, shooting a long
flame of fire into the still air.
After the days festivities, Pygmalion returned home and kissed Galatea as was his
custom. At the warmth of her kiss, he started as if stung by a hornet. The arms that
were ivory now felt soft to his touch and when he softly pressed her neck the veins
throbbed with life. Humbly raising her eyes, the maiden saw Pygmalion and the light of
day simultaneously. Aphrodite blessed the happiness and union of this couple with a
child. Pygmalion and Galatea named the child Paphos, for which the city is known until
this day.